- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday said attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq may worsen this summer, but he insisted that occupation forces there are making progress.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to expect this to go on, and there’s even speculation that during the month of July, which is an anniversary for a lot of Ba’athists’ events, we could see an increase in the number of attacks,” Mr. Rumsfeld said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Rumsfeld cautioned that even though major fighting has ended, “we’re still in a war.” He said U.S. forces, now totaling about 150,000, probably will remain in Iraq for the “foreseeable future.”

American and coalition troops have been the targets of daily attacks by snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and other means. Since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over, 31 U.S. soldiers have been killed and scores wounded in hit-and-run attacks.

The defense secretary yesterday declined to use the term “guerrilla war” to describe the situation on the ground.

He said there is still a lot of debate about whether the resistance American forces are encountering is organized throughout the country. However, he said, “It’s very clear that it’s coordinated in regions and areas, cities in the north particularly.”

Mr. Rumsfeld also disputed claims from some congressional Democrats that the administration has understated the cost of the war and occupation of Iraq.

“We have said we don’t know what it will cost. We have said it’s not knowable how long it will last,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mr. Rumsfeld said estimates he provided Congress last week that the occupation was costing $3.9 billion to $4 billion a month are based on current costs and cannot be projected into the future.

Mr. Rumsfeld would say only that U.S. forces may be there for the “foreseeable future,” and that the number could be increased if needed. He dismissed concerns that the United States may be getting bogged down in Iraq, and vowed to stay the course.

“Is it an important thing to be doing? Yes. Is it tough? You bet. Are more people going to be killed? You bet. Does it cost some money? You bet. Can we tell the world or anybody else precisely what it’s going to cost or how long it’s going to last? No,” he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld also said he is confident the United States will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“We just have to be patient,” he said. “It’s been 10 weeks now. We’ve got a wonderful team of people working on the problems … and they’re going to keep looking.


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